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Old 02-24-2020, 09:13 AM   #1
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Wheel Simulator (aka Hubcap): Rubbing on Tires

I have a question for motorhome owners that use wheel simulators (aka: shiny hubcaps) on their steel 22.5 truck rims (8 Lug).

My FRONT wheels simulator's edge rubs ever so slightly on the tire sidewall where it meets the steel rim. As a result, it makes a squeaky noise once per tire rotation; it's a slight squeak noise like a shoe would on your heel. This does not seem to cause any damage to the front tires (that i know of) because the wheel simulator is smooth metal. I've driven these tires & simulators for almost 4 years for 20,000 miles+ without issue.... but the noise is very very annoying. Once you get up to speed and the tire heats up the noise virtually disappears, but every morning when you start out the front tires squeak squeak squeak as you drive slowly out of the park. If it's very humid the squeak is louder. To be clear, there are NO ISSUES with the rear wheel simulators/hubcaps, only the fronts.

The simulator has _always_ rubbed on the tire and that noise is not only very annoying but distracts from listening for any other possible mechanical noise that may be of concern. So I took the motorhome to a really good shop that only works on diesel trucks chassis and underbody, including tires, and they did not know what to do. Another different shop just said that was the hubcap rubbing, no big deal. They dont even see it as a mechanical problem.

The recommendation has been to get new wheel simulators but they do not sell them. It seems that what I need to find is a replacement simulator that is slightly shorter in diameter but still fits a 22.5 steel rim (8 Lug) so it doesn't rub, but the websites that sell them do not have any data on the precise wheel simulator's dimensions to try to avoid repeating the problem with new simulators (they're not cheap: $200 - $500!!). While all the sites are clear on wheel size and # of lugs, no one seems to mention the actual edge-to-edge simulator diameter as if it is not a concern. But that rubbing noise is rubbing me raw, i want it to stop.

I was curious if there is anyone out there that knows about these wheel simulators, is there an expert shop that fabricates these to fit my rims without rubbing, or is there a modification I need to do on my existing FONT wheel simulators to have them stop rubbing? Thanks for any advice.
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Old 02-24-2020, 10:09 AM   #2
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I cut 1/4" clear tubing into 3" strips, sliced length wise and stuck on edge if simulator then refastened. My rears squeeked as well but it was from the center hub rubbing. To solve this I added thin rubber pipe insulation tape to the inside of the simulator to the spot that was rubbing. It works for me. Becareful, wear gloves when pulling off as the metal holes are razor sharp. I actually used a little die grinder and dulled the the sharp edge. Hope this gives you some ideas.
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Old 02-24-2020, 11:03 AM   #3
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How about removing the simulator, clean the back side outer edge and then add a strip of two sided tape around the back of the outer edge and reinstall. It should space the simulator away from the tire and eliminate the squeak.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:00 AM   #4
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thanks Don, that's similar to what doublebs said above. I may ask the tire shop to do that since I dont know that I can jack up & remove those tires myself - its not a car. Basically what im hearing is add a spacer, whether its double-sided tape or 1/4" tubing placed around the edges of the hubcap. If anyone has any other ideas Im all ears. Thanks to everyone for your help!!!
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:36 AM   #5
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You should be able to remove the covers without removing the tire and wheel. Only a few fake nuts hold it on.

I removed mine, use a rag and pliers to bend the outermost flange out a bit, all the way around, and reinstalled them. No more noise.

If you can fit some kind of fork over the flange, you may be able to bend it out, on the wheel.
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:26 AM   #6
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Twinboat: dang, i didnt think it would be that easy but that might be the best KISS idea. The cover is pretty tight against the tire but im due to get the tires rotated in 2 weeks and when they pull them off I will definitely look at following your recommendation. THANKS!!!
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Old 02-25-2020, 05:14 PM   #7
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I had the same problem on my F53 Bounder. Lift the tire off the ground. Loosen or remove both nuts holding the simulator on the two studs. You'll find there's a lot of movement once the nuts have been loosened. Center the simulator on the two studs so the outer edge of the simulator matches the outer circumference of the wheel and not over lapping or touching the tire. Tighten the nuts and put the caps back on. Lower wheel to ground.

Or, when you go for your tire rotation, ask the installer to take a little care when putting them back on.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:04 PM   #8
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So youre saying they were actually put on incorrectly? I only ask because physically the simulator looks pretty well placed on the wheel evenly all the way around, it does not appear to be off to one side or another, but maybe we're talking about millimeters?.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:22 PM   #9
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The caps that were on my '14 Ventana LE made noise also on the front. They originally had a narrow bead of stick-on foam along the back edge. As a little time and mileage went along, the foam wore out and gave the squeaking noise. I never did anything to eliminate the squeak and just put up with it, sometimes more noticeable that others. I sold the coach 7 months ago so the problem went away thankfully.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:26 PM   #10
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I had the same squeak, only happened at parking lot speeds. I think the wheels flex very slightly at low speeds and the simulators don’t causing the squeak.
I slightly loosened the nuts holding the simulators, still tight enough to stay there, but not tight enough to cause the squeak.
Problem solved.
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